Thursday, February 6, 2014

Feb. 26: great NewsToday section.

Of it's 12 pages, 9 are ads, many of them in full colour.

Then, there's a non-story that President Vladimir Putin of Russia is confident of security at the  Sochi Olympics.  Now, it he were not confident, that would be a story. As it is, it's meaningless.

Then, on C5, there's "Children are victims of both sides in Syrian fighting". Well, yeah. they are victims on both sides in any modern war I have heard of. However, there's another story about Syria that might be even more important.

The US has decided to continue support for the "rebels", who are really heavily composed of hired mercenaries. most of them with links to terrorist groups like al Quaeda, and  paid for by US allies in the region.

The US has always been involved in this war. In fact, it was the one that planned it. However, the heavy presence of extreme groups has convinced the US to provide weapons from now on only to the less extreme factions (which are still pretty extreme.) So the US, in the name of something or other, is now supporting units of Al Quaeda with weapons in a region already saturated with weapons.

There is a story on Harper's bill to reform election spending in what he calls his "Fair Elections Bill".
It points out a fault in the bill. In fact, it's much worse than this story suggests.

The bill says that money spent in campaigning is an election expense. But that which is spent on fund-raising is not an election expense.  There are some problems with this.
1. Fund-raising and campaigning are pretty much the same thing. Usually, they are exactly the same thing. So all a party has to do is to call most of its campaigning 'fund-raising' - and it's home free. In effect, there is no longer a ceiling on spending.

And that will benefit a party that has access to big contributions. And that party, for some years now, has been the Conservative party  (which has also been known to use tax-payers" money to campaign with - as in paying to that trip to Israel which was pure campaigning to nail down the Jewish vote for the next election.

2. There is a penalty for improperly claiming campaign spending as fund-raising spending. But:
a. Since the two are so much alike, it will be close to impossible to enforce such a penalty.
b. The penalty for unintentionally misreporting spending is $50.000. Given the millions of dollars involved, this is peanuts.
c. Investigation of such a case is done by one department (which doesn't have the power to force suspects to say anything), and to another which handles the prosecution - but has no power over the investigation.

It has always been possible for people with money to buy the government they want. The "Fair Elections Act" makes it even easier. We now have government by purchase - and the big money will, as it has for some time now, purchase the Conservatives.

Free Elections? Hell. This is the death of elections.

Will it get changed in the House of Commons debate?  Not a chance. There probably won't even be much of a debate or discussion. Harper will put a time limit on the debate to get this through before the public has thought much about it. Then he'll push it through with his majority.

Goodbye, democracy. It was nice to know you.

The is no exaggeration. Harper has always had contempt for democracy. And this is his kiss of death.

And not a single columnist of the Tand T had the wit to do a column on this.

If you want to see a good column on the subject, go to rabble .ca, and check out what Karl Neremberg has to say. Karl had long experience with the CBC in Ottawa. He's far and away one of the best in his field.

On the NB budget, the Conservatives, the Liberals and the Irving press have beaten the drums for panic over the budget. Gotta cut it. Gotta cut it. But it's not that simple. Before  you cut, you have to discover what got us into the budgetary hole in the first place. Dominic Candy of the NDP is the only leader I've seen to do that He's on C3.

He suggests, for a start,  getting rid of the department of economic development (which is largely devoted to gift-giving to business friends of the government)

Candy has further suggestions for balancing the budget which will be announced later.

He doesn't go nearly so far as I would like, but Candy is the first leader to show some understanding of why we have such a deficit.

Or, if you prefer the advice of someone who hasn't begun to understand which end is up on this issue, read Norbert's column for today.

The key to deciding who to vote for is to look for principles reflected in the party's platform. In the view of the Liberals and the Conservatives, the parties' principles mean acting essentially as a servant to the rich. And if we do that, all else will be settled.

Candy's announcement shows at the beginnings of a basic principle that the party exists to serve the people of the province. There's   further to go; but this is a good start.
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There's a big story on A2. But it's a big story that's been made small, and hidden at the bottom of the page. "Submarine HMCS Windsor to undergo repairs". This is one of a number of submarines we bought,apparently so we could have something to repair. Windsor has just finished a refit that took
five years. And now it's back in hospital.

Then there's the disaster of our search for a new fighter plane.

Canada's department of defence has become notorious for the chaos of its purchases, the result being armed force that are unready for much in the way of any combat role. ( Gee. MacKay was minister there for a while. You'ld think it would all be fixed now.)
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For news that isn't in the Irving press, there's a recent poll that some 60% of Americans think the Iraqi dead in the Bush war on Iraq amounted to 10,000 or less. Only 6% said it was 500,000 or more.

And the 6% had it right. The scientific body counts put the number from half a million to over a million. These findings are consistent with other polls on the subject.

How can so many people be so far off on this? Easy. Their news media lie to them. They lie, and they withhold information. That's true all over North America.  When was the last time you saw a report on the number of dead in Afghanistan or Libya? When a senior CIA officer told Congress that American assassination squads and "secret" wars had killed 6 million people during his service, was that reported in the Irving press? Or the 300,000 Guatemalans, slaughtered as whole families and buried in mass graves?

Americans (and us) are kept ignorant of the realities of these wars - and we are kept in ignorance by a press that lies and trivializes. The purpose of the news media, especially the private news media, has become not to inform but to withhold information. to make us think that big news is that Justin Bieber will be in court, or to check out pages of sports results of games that mean nothing whatever to our lives from cities we have never seen.
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Finally, though it has not appeared in the North American press, Israel may have talked itself into a tight corner. It's treatment of Palestinians, and its obvious lack of interest in a peace treaty are isolating it all over the world.

Even the US (including American Jews) is losing patience. American government leaders are fed up with Israel's constant demands and its refusal to cooperate. As one commentator put it, "American governments are fed up with being treated as if the US were a colony of Israel."

One result is a worldwide movement, growing very quickly, to boycott Israeli products. And that could make some very real problems for Netanyahu.

That's why I said that Harper made an ass of himself and of Canada with his over the top visit to Israel. He did nothing to solve problems in that area. In fact, he was worsened some - including the negotiations with Iran. As for his promise to stand by Israel in a war, everybody except us knows it's worthless.Canada has no significant military power to offer.

Only the US can (and does) offer significant help.. And Netanyahu has spent the last six months, at least, publicly insulting Obama - and trying to wreck his attempts to bring some measure of peace to the region.

But don't worry. You'll never read about it in the Tand T.



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